Switzerland’s largest private bank, Julius Bär, has been hit by a German demand to pay back €135 million (CHF165 million) in assets that went missing during the reunification of East and West Germany.
A German federal department responsible for clearing up outstanding issues surrounding the 1990 reunification of the country has filed a legal writ in Zurich against the bank for assets that went missing around the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The action claims that money deposited by an East German trading company in the former Swiss Bank Cantrade, which has been owned by Julius Bär since 2005, went missing illegally. The writ states that Cantrade wrongly allowed the money to be withdrawn between 1989 and 1992.
The bank denies responsibility for the withdrawals, saying that Cantrade belonged to UBS during the time period specified in the legal action. But the German authorities are holding the current owners of the bank responsible for covering the losses.
Julius Bär confirmed that it had been in talks with the German authorities earlier this year without reaching a satisfactory conclusion.